Cruise Industry Restart Demands

Cruise Industry Restart Demands

For decades, the cruise industry’s business practices have put the environment, climate, social fabric, economic integrity, and public health of coastal communities, passengers, crew, and ecosystems at risk. In addition, most governments have refused to enact strong regulations for the cruise industry, ignored the ongoing damage the industry does to communities and the environment, or have caved to industry pressure to develop their pristine resources for industry profit. Friends of the Earth US has  demanded clean cruising for the past two decades and has  issued our semi-annual Cruise Ship Report Card since 2009. The latest tragic example of the cruise industry’s negligence is the industry’s recent mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic—exposing the industry’s ongoing willingness to put its profits over protecting public health and the environment. Without legally binding regulations, the cruise industry will continue to pollute and threaten public health at will. With the industry almost completely halted due to the COVID-19 crisis, Friends of the Earth sets out the following demands before the cruise industry should resume its operations in the United States.

#1 Self-determination & Regulation: Commit to respect frontline communities’ universal right to self-determination and halt all lobbying to gain influence and weaken or halt regulations.

(1.1) Collaboratively develop your planned cruise tourism operations in each home port and port of call by obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of the people most directly negatively affected by cruise tourism operations and pollution. This includes Indigenous communities and residents near cruise ship home ports and destinations. (1.2) This means that cruise companies must not interfere in local politics and political processes. (1.3) Powerful multinational cruise corporations have used lobbying and campaign contributions to sway local elections, gain access to our leaders, and influence votes. Cruise operators have attempted to play port cities and frontline communities against each other, or otherwise coerce, manipulate or intimidate communities. This must stop. (1.4) As the cruise industry seeks social license for resumption of operations it must implement real environmental accountability and economic review and governments must institute strong regulatory systems for the cruise industry to protect the environment and public health. (1.5) The cruise industry must pay its fair share of local and national taxes and refuse any form of government subsidy. (1.6) Stop avoiding taxes and strong environmental and labor regulations by flying flags of convenience. Flag all new ships and reflag your current ships by 2030 in the country where your company is headquartered.

#2 Public Health: Protect public health.

(2.1) Until you cease the use of HFO, notify all passengers of the potential health risks of breathing the ships’ exhaust while on deck. (2.2) Maintain sanitary conditions on board to avoid outbreaks of contagious diseases. Implement other measures to control spread of disease as mandated for the cruise industry by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (i.e. mandatory masks, social distancing enforcement, sail at reduced passenger and crew capacity, take enough time to sanitize ships between voyages). (2.3) Install HVAC air purifying systems throughout all ships to limit the transfer of communicable diseases through ventilation systems between cabin rooms, in crew quarters, and in public areas. (2.4) When an outbreak occurs, cease all travel immediately and inform local officials of the outbreak. (2.5) Never, under any circumstances, contribute to the spread of an epidemic by continuing to sail without reporting illness detected onboard any ship to relevant government authorities. Avoid the transmission of diseases to host communities. (2.6) Warn passengers that the medical care provided onboard a cruise ship cannot and should not be considered comparable to the care one would receive on land. (2.7) Provide a transparent public real-time reporting of infectious diseases identified among crew or passengers so residents of port communities know what is coming their way. (2.8) Educate passengers on proper hygiene etiquette (such as proper coughing technique) and inform them about the vulnerable status of local communities. Provide passengers with reusable and refillable alcohol disinfectant gel and encourage its frequent use when onshore.

#3 Climate Change: Stop contributing to climate change.

(3.1) Publicly commit to achieving zero emissions across your entire global fleet, with a 40% reduction in the first decade, followed by a minimum of 5% year-over-year reductions. (3.2) Immediately progress towards your absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets by implementing a slow-steaming protocol across your entire fleet. (3.3) Halt liquified natural gas (LNG) investments, and redirect those resources towards zero emissions strategies, including research, development, and testing of sustainable fuels such as green hydrogen or ammonia. (3.4) In order to reduce unhealthy and climate-harming black carbon emissions, publicly commit to immediately cease the use and carriage of high sulfur fuel oil (HSFO) globally and the use of both HSFO and very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO) in the Arctic. Switch to distillate/marine gasoil (MGO) and install efficient particulate filter systems or switch to other cleaner non-fossil fuels, technologies, or propulsion systems. 

#4 Air Pollution: Stop polluting the air.

(4.1) Publicly commit to 100% shore power use by 2025. (4.2) Lead in the development of a universal shore power system. (4.3) Retrofit ships for shore power, and immediately require all ships to use shore power where it is available. (4.4) Pay 100% of the costs of shore power infrastructure in all ports of call by 2025. Do not ask, solicit or lobby for taxpayer subsidies. 

#5 Water Pollution: Stop polluting the water.

(5.1) Publicly commit to immediately cease the use of scrubbers, whether open-loop, closed-loop, or hybrid in order to halt the discharge of polluted scrubber washwater into our oceans. (5.2) Publicly commit to voluntarily stop dumping all waste—including sewage and graywater—within 24 nautical miles of any coast and anywhere in any marine protected area. (5.3) Upgrade sewage and graywater treatment systems onboard all vessels in your global fleet from Marine Sanitation Devices to Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems, and publicly commit to using these treatment systems at all times outside of 24 nautical miles from shore. (5.4) Commit to a performance-based standard, with ongoing testing and maintenance of sewage and graywater treatment systems to ensure they are functioning at optimal performance levels at all times and make the test results and maintenance logs publicly available. 

#6 Monitoring & Transparency: Publicly disclose your performance.

(6.1) Install additional continuous monitoring equipment for monitoring air emissions, including but not limited to nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), particulate matter (nano, ultrafine, fine, and coarse), and CO2. (6.2) Publicly report the data from all air emission and effluent discharge monitoring equipment, including the location and volume of discharges and all other data, in real time to a publicly available website. (6.3) Monitor sewage, graywater and other effluent discharges at the point of discharge, including but not limited to temperature (thermal pollution), PH, PAHs, BOD, turbidity, chlorine concentrations, and fecal coliforms. (6.4) Make discharge, discharge location, and effluent data publicly available. (6.5) Support establishment of national government-funded programs to ensure that International Maritime Organization-certified, third party monitors are on board all vessels to monitor and enforce local and national environmental and public health regulations for all ports of call. 

#7 Environment & Biodiversity: Respect the integrity of vulnerable ecosystems and protected areas.

(7.1) Reduce speed below 12 knots within 25 miles of the coast to prevent whale strikes and avoid sonic disturbance to sensitive coastal and marine wildlife. (7.2) Limit and contain cruise tourism’s land use: stop the development of all proposed private cruise destinations so as to retain geographical character, a diverse economy, local access, and critical ecosystems. (7.3) Garbage and recycling should be processed in the port of origin. Disposal of waste products, including garbage, recyclables, and industrial waste should be processed in the home port, and not dumped in ports of call. (7.4) Cease the use of all single-use plastics regardless of the carbon source (plant vs petroleum). All crockery, glassware and utensils must be re-usable and properly stored on the ship for cleaning and re-use. (7.5) Absolutely no plastic waste should be dumped overboard under any circumstances. On-board incinerators are absolutely not acceptable for disposing of plastics and should not be seen as an alternative solution.

#8 Labor: Create a safe, just, and equitable environment for workers both onboard and on shore.

(8.1) Align your business practices with the strictest labor and environmental standards in the world. (8.2) Affirm the right of crew members to collectively bargain by organizing independent labor unions that represent workers. Cease all anti-union labor practices. (8.3) Provide hospitality crew with home visits every six months and regular shore leave. (8.4) Align the wages and working conditions for workers onboard ships with the national minimum wage and labor laws in the country they are headquartered. (8.5) Cap work hours at 48-60/week and six days for all employees. (8.6) Pay time and a half for hours worked over 50 hours/week – regardless of employees’ country of origin, rank, or department. (8.7) Provide paid sick leave and comprehensive medical care that is 70% or more of basic wages plus gratuities. (8.8) Recruit and employ staff following International Labor Standards and the standards of the 2006 Maritime Labor Convention. (8.9) Commit to only work with local tour operators, drivers, caterers, and all other contractors and subcontractors that meet or exceed the local labor standards. (8.10) Comply with International Human Rights Laws, including Article 23, 24 & 25 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. (8.11) Institute policies and practices to protect crew and reward whistleblowers. Eliminate managers who retaliate and reprimand crew for reporting abuse and violations. Change the onboard culture that violates human rights and leads to rape, sexual harassment, discrimination and gender inequality. 

#9 Worker Repatriation:

(9.1) Develop and implement a corporate-wide policy to provide for the repatriation of all ship-based crew in the event of future disease outbreaks onboard your vessels that result in the quarantine of a vessel. Immediately arrange and pay for the repatriation of any and all remaining ship-based employees stuck, at any time and for whatever reason, onboard cruise ships with private transportation so as not to further endanger the health of the general public. (9.2) In the event of government restrictions that do not allow for immediate repatriation, ensure that crew members who remain onboard are paid at least 70% of wages, including gratuities and/or commission. Ensure that agreements are made with concessions so that retail, spa, casino, crew are entitled to the same rights.

These demands are just some of the Principles of Responsible Cruise Tourism created by the Global Cruise Activist Network of which Friends of the Earth US is a member.

OTHER DEMANDS from the Global Cruise Activist Network:

#1 Economic Impacts: Address cruise lines’ long and ongoing history of exploitive business practices by implementing policies that maximize the retention of revenue within home ports and ports of calls. Ease the burden of cruise tourism by accounting for and eliminating its true and total costs in terms of environmental, cultural, and socio-economic impacts.

(1.1) Adopt Natural Capital Accounting and Social and Cultural valuation methods. Any review should include multiple accounts analysis, including a public financial account, a private financial (or economic development) account, a social account, and an environmental account. The multiple accounts, or triple bottom line, perspective must be central to any analysis, providing information about who benefits and who absorbs costs. (1.2) Ensure negative externalities are internalized into the cost of doing business rather than forcing the burden on to port communities (e.g., waste management). (1.3) The mega cruise industry must embed the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into their corporate cultures and report the monitoring of progress towards the goals on publicly available dashboards. The cruise industry must advocate for and promote the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals across its supply chains and in destination ports of call. (1.4) Redefine economic success by using metrics that quantify the benefits to local small business development, equitable distribution of income, and enhancement of sustainable, local supply chains. (1.5) Operate business responsibly: incentivize and reward local tourism businesses and associated enterprises that support these principles through their actions. (1.6) Develop strong local supply chains that allow for higher quality products and experiences. (1.7) Provide advance funding for public infrastructure projects made to serve the cruise industry, such as docks, roads, sidewalks, bus parking, recycling, waste management, and shore power to ensure that the community is not burdened with debt if the industry departs. (1.8) For existing private cruise destinations, voluntarily pay a head tax to local governments. (1.9) As the cruise industry seeks social license for resumption of operations, cruise port communities demand environmental accountability and economic review. (1.10) Pay your fair share of local and national taxes. (1.11) Stop avoiding taxes by flying flags of convenience. Flag all new ships and reflag your current ships by 2030 in the country where your company is headquartered. 

#2 Cultural & Quality of Life Impacts: Adopt a policy of “do no harm” to retain and enhance cruise port communities’ cultural identity, distinctive character, and quality of life.

(2.1) Commit to policies and business practices that protect and benefit natural, scenic, and cultural assets while enhancing the well-being and cultural heritage of host communities. (2.2) Demonstrate respect for the lives and livelihoods of the people most directly affected by cruise ship pollution and over-tourism, even if it requires fewer and smaller ships with fewer passengers. (2.3) Avoid exhibits, displays, or performances that resort to exoticizing, fictionalizing, and fetishizing local cultures, especially examples of cultural appropriation and/or racial stereotyping. (2.4) Market cruise tourism in ways which reflect the natural, cultural, and social integrity of the destination, and which encourage environmentally and culturally responsible tourism. (2.5) In ports of call, stagger arrival and departure times with other cruise ships to prevent land transportation surges and limit traffic so as to not overwhelm the local community with noise and congestion impacts. Cruise ships and their passengers are guests in the host destinations and should treat the destinations with the mutual respect they expect their passengers to receive on their visits.

#3 Crime Victims:

(3.1) Institute policies and practices to protect passengers. (3.2) Commit to a legally binding agreement that all regulations in the U.S. Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 (CVSSA) will be implemented before sailing begins again, including the implementation of Man Overboard Detection technology. (3.3) Notify passengers before booking a cruise and after boarding their ship of the risks involved in cruising. Remind passengers that the same kind of personal safety precautions and care one would take in any city on land should also be taken onboard a cruise ship. (3.4) Given the unconscionable number of sexual assaults committed on cruise ships, including against minors, advise passengers that it is dangerous and ill-advised to leave children unattended or unaccompanied onboard a cruise ship. 

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